Lentil & Chickpea Lasagne

Lentil & Chickpea Lasagne

by James Taylor

Chef James Taylor's Lentil & Chickpea Lasagne is a perfect meal to introduce children to pulses. Lasagne is a popular and comforting dish that most children are familiar with, encouraging them to eat pulses they may not have tried before.

Chef James Taylor is on a mission to get pulses into school meals.

Last week was the first week back at school and the first week of the universal free school meals programme in London, meaning every London school child can enjoy a free nutritious school lunch.

James has been using Hodmedod's pulses for the last few years in his primary schools and this term is running special Pulses Days on the menus for two schools every 2 weeks, featuring different beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. The pulse dish is always vegetarian and served to the whole school as one of their two weekly vegetarian days.

For this dish James recommends:

  • In my experience, the mushier and more unrecognisable your pulses are the better for a school full of children. Previously if I've cooked the pulses so they still have had a bit of bite, the children struggle with them more than if they are very soft.
  • I find that when I assemble the lasagne while the sauces are hot, it starts to cook the pasta sheets which speeds up the cooking process. It's great when you're short of time in the kitchen which I usually am.

Here James uses peppers and mushrooms in the lasagne, but they can be switched for any other available seasonal vegetables.

Serves around 150 children and 20 adults (fills 2 Gastronorm trays, 530 x 325 X 100mm)


For the Pulses
For the Ragu
  • 6 Medium Onions, small dice
  • 6 Bulbs of Garlic, minced
  • 15 Medium Carrots, medium dice
  • 2.5kg x 3 Tins Chopped Tomatoes
  • 800g Tin Tomato Puree
  • 1lt Water or Vegetable Stock
  • 7 tbsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Black Pepper
  • 6 tbsp Paprika
  • 5 Mixed Peppers, small dice
  • 1kg Mushrooms, processed to a paste
For the Cheese Sauce
  • 900g Butter
  • 900g Plain Flour
  • 3.2lt Milk
  • Thyme Sprigs
  • 10 Garlic Cloves
  • 3 tbsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tbsp White Pepper
  • 1kg Mature Cheddar Cheese, grated


For the Pulses
  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight the day before you're going to cook them
  2. The next morning, drain the water and put in a pot covered with water. Season the water with salt (I also added a few garlic cloves and a few bay leaves to my pot). Bring the water to the boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook until the peas are soft (around 1 hour)
  3. Rinse the lentils repeatedly until the water runs clear
  4. Bring to the boil in salted water, then leave to simmer until soft (around 30-45 minutes)
For the Ragu
  1. Warm some olive or rapeseed oil in a big pot and gently cook the onions & garlic until very soft
  2. Add the carrots, peppers and mushrooms to the pot.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, water, sea salt, black pepper and paprika. Leave to simmer for around an hour to allow the flavours to combine and the sauce to thicken up
  4. Next add the cooked lentils and chickpeas and leave covered for another 30-45 minutes until the sauce is desired thickness and the pulses are very soft
For the Cheese Sauce
  1. Put the milk, thyme, garlic, sea salt & white pepper into a pot and warm over a gentle heat
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter over a low heat. Add the flour to make the roux and stir for a few minutes until well combined
  3. Start adding the warm milk gradually to the roux and whisking continuously to make the sauce very smooth. Keep adding the milk and whisking until you've used all the milk
  4. Next, stir in the cheese until fully melted and incorporated
Assembly and Baking 
  1. While both the ragu & cheese sauce are still hot, cover the bottom of a gastro with the ragu, then stir in 2 or 3 ladles of the cheese sauce and swirl the two sauces together.
  2. Next, cover the sauces with a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat two more times
  3. Top the lasagne with a final layer of cheese sauce and sprinkle over some more cheese
  4. Cover with a lid or foil and bake at 180 for around 40 minutes
  5. Uncover and put back in the oven to brown the cheese
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a round 30 - 40 minutes before serving

James Taylor
James Taylor


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